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Herbold elected to software board

Microsoft's chief operating officer finally wins election to the board of the Software and Information Industry Association, an influential trade group.

Microsoft chief operating officer Bob Herbold finally succeeded in getting elected to the board of the Software and Information Industry Association, an influential trade group that has frequently lobbied against the software giant.

But lest Microsoft get too emboldened, the trade group's 1,200 members also voted in executives from four of Microsoft's fiercest foes, including Mike Morris, general counsel at Sun Microsystems. In all, seven others won seats on the board.

Herbold's election marks the first time Microsoft has been represented since the Justice Department filed an antitrust action against the company in October 1997. The elections also represent the first time a Sun executive has taken a seat on the board of the SIIA.

The group has taken a number of controversial and high-profile positions against Microsoft. Most recently, SIIA lobbied the Justice Department and 19 state attorneys general to consider breaking up the software giant should the agencies prevail in an antitrust lawsuit that is pending in a Washington, D.C. federal court.

Along with a handful of other large members, Microsoft is the organization's biggest dues payer, shelling out $125,000 per year for its membership.

Herbold spent the past year trying to get a seat on board of the Software Publishers Association, the predecessor to the SIIA before it merged in January with the Information Industry Association. He lost a general election last April, and a month later his bid to get nominated by the remaining board also failed.

This time around, however, Herbold was the top vote-getter, according to a SIIA spokesman.

"Bob is honored to have been elected by his colleagues at SIIA and he looks forward to working on issues that face the industry," said Microsoft spokesman Tom Pilla.

But representatives from a number of Microsoft foes besides Sun also were elected. They include Oracle general counsel Dan Cooperman, who was reelected, Apple Computer vice president Clent Richardson, and America Online associate general counsel Kent Walker.

What effect will the new board have on the hard line the SIIA has taken against Microsoft's business practices? Representatives of Microsoft, Sun, and the SIIA all preferred to focus on other issues.

"It's a mistake to view this election through the prism of the antitrust issue," said Ken Wasch, the organization's president. "Bob Herbold joins this board with a common interest on encryption, copyright, and privacy issues."

Other members elected to the board include: Sue Collins, senior vice president at Jostens Learning, and Mark Walsh, president of VerticalNet.

James Coane, president, of N2K, was also reelected.

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